New Year, New Ideas

28 November 2022

As one year ends and another begins, churches and their communities will be reflecting on the highs and lows. Current economic challenges impact people’s ability to give, as well as pushing up overheads for churches.

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Equally, as we emerge from the pandemic, there is a growing desire to reconnect with people in real life. We are seeing the joyful revival of events big and small, and this is great news for fundraising. Place-based giving is on the up: people care more than ever about giving back to their local community.

So now is the time to take stock, reboot and refresh your fundraising. We have put some top tips together to help you identify where to begin to help your church to thrive, including links to further guidance, and some new ideas for the New Year.

1. Assemble your fundraising team

  • Bring together a group of volunteers who are willing to commit a few hours each month to plan and lead your fundraising activities. Having a team relieves the burden on one or two individuals, and makes the whole endeavour fun and social. Some may view it as a personal and professional development opportunity too.
  • It’s important to recognise your volunteers, and in doing so, you will often attract more. Perhaps a “wall of fame” in the church or on your website, or special mentions on your Facebook page.
  • It can help to have a few clear roles and responsibilities, for example chairing meetings, social media management, finances and grant applications. Some people may prefer to be a general helper and pitch in as needed – and that’s very valuable too!

2. Draw up a calendar for the year

It really helps you as organisers and your supporters to know what is coming up with plenty of notice. Even if you end up tweaking things as you go along, it’s well worth having an annual plan in place. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What frequency of activity feels right for your church and community? Every month, or every other month, for example?
  • What seasonal ‘moments’ can you use to inspire your fundraising? Christmas and Easter are obvious opportunities, but how about a Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea, or a Pancake Race (and eating, of course) on Shrove Tuesday?
  • What is your budget? You will want to run any fundraising activity at a minimal cost to the church. Gifts-in-kind, volunteer time and event ‘sponsors’ are all invaluable, and you might be surprised at how many people are happy to be asked! However, it is worth being clear about what funds are available for any costs incurred for catering, public facilities, technical support, and so on, should they be required.
  • What can you do year-round with minimal resources? Some digital tools allow people to ’give’ to their chosen charity (i.e. your church) without spending an extra penny. Platforms such as easyfundraising.org.uk automatically give a percentage of whatever shoppers spend online to their nominated charity.

3. Communicate

  • Share your planned events everywhere you can: in the church, around your parish, with local schools (especially for family events you have planned), on your website, in your newsletter/parish magazine and crucially, on social media.
  • It may help to schedule regular reminders about fundraising activity, for example posting an update every Thursday evening.
  • Remember to tell people what you’re fundraising for, and how you’re getting on. It might sound obvious, but telling people the story of what their giving will help to achieve is key to unlocking support. People like to know they are making a difference, no matter how big or small their gift is.

4. Thinking bigger

Community based fundraising will always be at the heart of any church’s activity, but why not take the New Year as an opportunity to reboot your Major Gifts planning? This might include:

  • Identifying the work that needs funding in the short and longer term, as well as annual overheads.
  • Researching grant making trusts and foundations or high net worth individuals who might support building renovations or the cost of running outreach work.
  • Creating or refreshing your ’case for support’: a core document that sets out the vision and mission of your church, the need for funding, the impact a significant gift would have on people’s lives, and a set of specific items or programmes that a donor might choose to support.
  • Putting together a flyer asking people to consider leaving a gift in their Will. Legacies remain the most untapped source of potential income for many churches and charities.
  • Adding trust and foundation application deadlines to your fundraising calendar - in some cases, you only have one or two opportunities per year!

5. Have fun!

Above all, we hope you enjoy fundraising in 2023 and that it brings you closer to your congregations and wider communities, enabling your daily work as well as helping you make your buildings fit for the future. Here are a few more ideas for how you might fill that fundraising calendar:

  • Cookery masterclass: team up with the chef from a local restaurant to give a demonstration on how to make a healthy, cost effective family meal.
  • Teddy parachute and picnic: donate to see your favourite toy parachute down a zip wire from the top of the church – and enjoy treats from a bake sale at a teddy bears picnic afterwards.
  • Craft workshops: it’s increasingly popular to share skills and teach people how to make gifts and items, instead of buying them. Does someone in your community know how to make candles, soap or cushions and can they offer a lesson?
  • Green giving month: why not choose a month of the year to focus on fundraising for something that helps the church reduce its environmental impact - and do this in a ‘green’ way. How about a sponsored walk or a preloved clothes sale?
  • Christmas tree of life: celebrate the new bundles of joy in your parish over the year by asking parents to make a donation in exchange for a bauble on the church Christmas tree with their baby’s name and date of birth. This can be hung and displayed during the Christmas period and afterwards, given back to the family to treasure.

By Annalise Pask, Director, Philanthropy Company

This guidance is provided for information purposes and is general and educational in nature. Nothing constitutes legal advice. You are free to choose whether or not to use it and it should not be considered a substitute for seeking professional legal help in specific circumstances. Where links are provided to third-party sites and resources, these links are provided for your information only. Ecclesiastical is not responsible for the contents of those sites or resources

Church fundraising